Season of the Witch
December 29, 2017 9:40 PM   Subscribe

 
Funny, I was just watching some Fleetwood Mac videos earlier then came on Metafilter to find this. I've loved Stevie since forever, and while I never got to see her in concert, her witchy aesthetic inspired many of my clothing choices over the years, and even now. (And I totally copied her blonde perm and smoky eyes in the 80s.)

Here is the live performance of Silver Springs mentioned in the article.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:54 PM on December 29 [6 favorites]


This deconstruction of Dreams makes it eminently clear what Stevie brings to the table.
posted by fairmettle at 11:23 PM on December 29 [9 favorites]


It's a good article on Nicks, but it still irks me a little that even in defending her artistic efforts the need is still felt to do so through talk of her personal life and relationships. I don't get the sense that same need is felt for comparable male talents, or even when such things are mentioned that they are treated in the same manner. I understand why the writer felt the need to do this given how much of Nicks critical history and legacy is sort of entangled with who songs were written about and other personal details, so I'm not exactly criticizing the writer for responding to that history, just wishing it could be sometimes set aside for the songs and her performances on their own.

I was all about Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks back in the eighties, seeing the Mirage and Wild Heart tours and playing their albums constantly. (The Mirage tour was fantastic!) As much as I liked Nicks solo work, the mix of her writing and singing with Buckingham's singular guitar work was an ideal match. That was "there" even on that Buckingham Nicks album, but, of course, brought into much greater effect with the rest of Fleetwood Mac.

Nicks work without the band seemed to increasingly sink under the weight of heavy guitar and a more monotonous rhythm/synth backing. At the same time, Buckingham's solo work felt flighty and a bit precious, clever ideas that lacked sufficient emotional depth. The two together, musically, provided a balance within the songs, but also on the albums as a whole, along with McVie, where any one of their styles alone might be enjoyable but limited, while alternating between them helped spark unexpected pleasures from the contrasts in styles.

Fleetwood Mac and Rumours were great, but Tusk is my favorite since it captures the tensions between the styles just before the point they fly apart and become untenable together. The later Fleetwood Mac stuff lacked much of that tension, which, while also enjoyable, kept it from being as potent as those first three albums with that incarnation of the group.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:14 AM on December 30 [10 favorites]


Serene Empress Dork, the last minute of that video is chilling. Thanks for posting.
posted by greermahoney at 1:48 AM on December 30 [6 favorites]


[On why she wrote Silver Springs and what she wanted to say to Lindsey] 'I'm so angry with you. You will listen to me on the radio for the rest of your life, and it will bug you. I hope it bugs you.'
~Stevie Nicks, Arizona Republic, August 12, 1997
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:45 AM on December 30 [12 favorites]


#TeamChristine for life.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 4:19 AM on December 30 [6 favorites]


I made it about half way through the article before deciding that this is one of those "there are 2 kinds of people in the world" situations, i.e., those who love Stevie Nicks and folks like me who just do not get where the other half is coming from. I find all that twirly, witchy stuff annoying and her nasal voice grates on my last nerve.

I think Christine McVie out classes her by orders of magnitude.
posted by she's not there at 4:29 AM on December 30 [6 favorites]


here's a similar profile written four years ago when 24 Karat Gold came out. It treads on similar ground to the FPP, though it's less witchy and also delves a bit more into how many of the fans have latched on to Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks specifically because the band was such a public trainwreck.
Fleetwood Mac is, to fans, not just a band but a riveting 40-plus-year soap opera involving the loss of members to schizophrenia and a religious cult; the arrival in 1974 of gorgeous, drama-filled young couple Stevie and Lindsey; and the cocaine-and-alcohol-fueled divorces and affairs behind 1977’s Rumours, which became the then-fastest-selling album of all time. You don’t come to one of their shows just for the music; you come to watch them masochistically stare down their past before a live audience.
which ... yeah ... I can see how that appeals to some people, and having known my wife for 20+ years, I get the alluring depth that comes with a relationship that has matured over decades, but eesh to the idea of digging up poetry from so many years ago and scratching those scabs over and over and over again; much less watching another pair of former partners do that to themselves.
posted by bl1nk at 5:06 AM on December 30 [3 favorites]


I was really impressed - and amused - that Stevie took a cameo playing herself on the American Horror Story "Coven" storyline that tweaks the nose of the whole "is she really a witch?" questions that seem to dog her. She's always said that no she's not neo-Pagan as such, but this seemed like a fun wink at that issue.

Something of hers (well, Fleetwood Mac's) that I love that this doesn't mention is Gypsy. I remember hearing it as a teenager and being fascinated with it, but it wasn't until I was older that I really understood that it was about wanting to return to that child you once were.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:33 AM on December 30 [3 favorites]


....And now that I watch that video for "Gypsy" again I'm realizing just how much of that style aesthetic imprinted on my subconscious. Wow.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:39 AM on December 30 [2 favorites]


#TeamChristine
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:10 AM on December 30 [1 favorite]


My mom’s then-boyfriend Johnny Waterbed showed me the Gypsy video when it aired on Night Flight. I was six. I instantly wanted to be Stevie and to live in that video. Stevie seemed like she’d own a pet unicorn, so OF COURSE she was my favorite...I even went as her for Halloween in first grade. I wax and wane over her now, but I have a soft spot for her.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:27 AM on December 30 [2 favorites]


I've always liked this clip of Stevie singing Wild Heart at a photoshoot.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:31 AM on December 30 [4 favorites]


The Gypsy video is one of my all-time favorites :)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:55 AM on December 30


Great piece; thanks for posting it. I'm very lucky, because I could easily have been one of the rote Stevie-haters like she's not there. Intellectually, I feel strongly that "there was something surface, shallow, and silly about her brand of vaguely occult spirituality" (to quote the article), and I'm much more drawn to hard rock (Stones!) than mushy ballads. But my best friend in New Haven in the late '70s was a woman who loved Stevie Nicks and... I don't think "modeled herself on her" is right, because she was innately drawn to scarves, witches, and pseudo-Celtic mysticism, and Nicks just happened to be a perfect role model for her. But she's the one who introduced me to Fleetwood Mac, and I could either go with the flow or throw a monkey wrench into our friendship, so I came to love the music (I still turn up the volume when "Rhiannon" comes on the radio). It's theoretically not my kind of thing, but so what? If people you love love something that doesn't come naturally to you, by transference you can find a wavelength in yourself that responds to it. It's better to spread your net as wide as possible than to hunker down in your bunker and clutch your few special favorite things.

All of which is a long way of saying yay Stevie, and I'm glad there's so little negativity in this thread!
posted by languagehat at 7:10 AM on December 30 [16 favorites]


I get that some people may not groove to Nicks, but Christine McVie isn't her competitor for a "best woman in the band" award. They work together and, according to the article, are friends, so picking a "team" isn't really necessary.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:23 AM on December 30 [45 favorites]


I read a long form thing about Stevie a few years back and my main takeaway was that she has storage spaces full of shawls sent to her by fans.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:26 AM on December 30 [2 favorites]


Fleetwood Mac and Rumours were great, but Tusk is my favorite since it captures the tensions between the styles just before the point they fly apart and become untenable together.

I love Tusk. When I commented about Tusk back in 2013, this was the response.

That person continues to be wrong.

Anyway, I watched that Silver Springs video and realized that there's a certain amount of interesting about artists who collaborate and who use their interpersonal strife as subject matter for their collective art and then continue to perform together even while they have to endure/relive these difficult emotions between one another.

I mean, that's a special kind of self-condemning hell, isn't it?
posted by hippybear at 8:06 AM on December 30 [3 favorites]


Hippybear: there was a synth pop band in the mid 2000’s called the lovemakers who used tension exactly like Fleetwood Mac. It went great until it went horrible.

As to Stevie Knicks, well, I was probably 8 years old when I asked my dad to buy me wild heart. I played it on my fisher price turntable over and over. I still have the same record to this day.

As a confused and scared little trans girl that Stevie Nicks album served as a refuge. (Alongside my Boy George and Rocky Horror albums oh my god I must have freaked the crap out of my parents with my vinyl requests as a 6 year old kid).

Anyway, Stevie Nicks the person is an objectified imaginary myth in my head. She’s not even a real person to me. I have no idea what she means to herself or how she interacts with her art and honestly I can scarcely care. Wild Heart gave me...countless hours of safety in my room as kid where I could be me and that’s enough.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:16 AM on December 30 [14 favorites]


there's a certain amount of interesting about artists who collaborate and who use their interpersonal strife as subject matter for their collective art and then continue to perform together even while they have to endure/relive these difficult emotions between one another

I think they are the musical equivalent of the Up series of documentaries, which goes back every 7 years to revisit a group of schoolchildren from Britain to see what they've become. Part of the art is the periodic re-examinations in which the re-examination is invited, it's out in the open. It sets them aside from most nostalgia acts who are doing their best to re-create the songs from the albums exactly the way the fans remember them from the mix cassette in the car or the high school dance. Most people aren't showing up wanting that from them.

With the exception of Tusk, which pretty much always sounds like Tusk if they get the marching band, most of the songs have musically matured from what they were the last time because these are a group of musicians who have gotten better and more experienced and exposed to new and different things and maybe having different limitations, and the emotional weight of the songs does the same because those paths and currents have changed in the intervening time, and people get insight as they age.

That's one of the things I think was so massive about Silver Springs: that shit got cask-aged in a basement for a couple decades before anybody got to hear it, an actual revealed prophecy because yep, he sure didn't get away, did he?
posted by Lyn Never at 9:23 AM on December 30 [7 favorites]


The twirly stuff with the shawls is, at worst, not any sillier than what Mick Jagger or any number of other people do onstage. I never thought much of, or about, Stevie Nicks before coming across a YouTube video of a live version of Rhiannon from the seventies, which took about three minutes to convert me. Fleetwood Mac still isn't exactly my cup of tea, but as intense and convincing rock and roll performances go, this was pretty hard to argue with. (I think it was this one.)
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:16 AM on December 30 [4 favorites]


They work together and, according to the article, are friends, so picking a "team" isn't really necessary.

Mildly creepy even, that incessant need to pit two women against each other.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:16 AM on December 30 [19 favorites]


This year Stevie Nicks reached a new audience when she sang with Harry Styles (Styles of One Direction boyband fame, now embarked on a surprisingly okay solo career). I've seen a lot of early 20s girls tap into Rumours as a result of the duet & Styles covering The Chain & generally fanboying Nicks. It's very sweet & satisfying to see them discovering 1970s Fleetwood Mac.
posted by kariebookish at 10:18 AM on December 30 [4 favorites]


This opening paragraph is KILLER. My aesthetic is not Stevie’s, but sartorial soft armor is extremely important to me.

Please enjoy the winner of the Stevie Nicks shawl design contest. I would never in a million years knit or wear this but I also have to concede that it is perfect.

Also I paid a silly amount of dollars to see Stevie at the Minnesota state fair this summer and I regret nothing. She was perfectly on her bullshit and ended her set with Edge of Seventeen followed immediately by a drenching thunderstorm.
posted by clavicle at 10:40 AM on December 30 [6 favorites]


The twirly stuff with the shawls is, at worst, not any sillier than what Mick Jagger or any number of other people do onstage.

I think this realization is what ultimately changed my opinion of Nicks. I felt a kind of secondhand embarrassment about Nicks; her floofy, witchy style and her melodrama struck me as deeply silly and uncool. But it's not any more silly than the performative masculinity and melodrama of male rockers--it's just coded as very feminine. There aren't that many things coded as feminine that we allow to be cool, especially not in the music world, and our ideas of good, serious music still skews very sexist.

Once I realized that, I could start getting over it. I'm still not a big fan but I'm not a hater anymore. Maybe I'll cue up "Rumours" and give it a listen through today.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:53 AM on December 30 [12 favorites]


clavicle: ...never in a million years...

I saw what you did.
posted by mule98J at 11:24 AM on December 30


I told my boss I appreciated her witchy Steve Nicks style and she was insulted. That's when I knew my boss had serious problems.
posted by Stonkle at 11:43 AM on December 30 [1 favorite]


spoiler alert on that harry styles video:


he is so nervous he can barely sing. and then he literally starts crying at the end and can't sing.

meanwhile the entire time, this crowd of young women just knows all the words to landslide and is singing along and yelling out to stevie.

the whole time stevie is encouraging him to sing and just so gracious.

to have that kind of impact still... utterly amazing.

that songs tears up me nearly every time but seeing harry just lose it put me straight into sob territory.

stevie nicks is amazing and wrote some goddamn fine songs.
posted by sio42 at 12:00 PM on December 30 [8 favorites]


and they also sang Leather and Lace after that where he managed to not cry and also i didn't know he could actually sing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QONWTFVypC0
posted by sio42 at 12:10 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]


The concept of liking or respecting Fleetwood Mac but not Stevie Nicks is really odd to me - her songs stand out so much. Though "The Chain" - which is number one in my book - probably only sort of counts. Buckingham is also incredibly talented but I didn't really figure that out until later.

(Actually I do love Peter Green Fleetwood Mac as much as anything but that's sort of a different band.)
posted by atoxyl at 12:36 PM on December 30 [5 favorites]


The Pretenders did an Austin City Limits taping a few months or so ago. They pump up the fog machines at those ACL tapings to make the lights stand out, and Chrissie Hynde made them shut it off, saying something like “That stuff messes with your voice, man. We just got off tour with Stevie Nicks* and since Stevie wouldn’t stand for that shit I’m not going to either”

Like, if Chrissie freaking Hynde so obviously absolutely reveres Stevie Nicks you have to respect that.

As far as Fleetwood Mac goes I am also legitimately #TeamChristine but only because she is underappreciated, comparably, and her songs are my favorites. But Jesus - it’s not a zero sum game, and part of why that era of Fleetwood Mac is so formidable is they had THREE astonishing songwriters at the top of their game, all of whom were/are also gifted collaborators. Stevie is a stone genius. But Christine and Lindsay are too.

*Goddamn.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:33 PM on December 30 [9 favorites]


She's so dreamy. Why would anyone ever hate on Stevie Nicks?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:13 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]


One thing that's always struck me as so improbable about the success of that most famous incarnation of Fleetwood Mac is that Mick Fleetwood, along with the McVies, were a fantastic rhythm section with one burgeoning songwriter who sought out the leads who'd define their music from then on. It's such a weird dynamic to imagine working well, yet it obviously did by the luck of Fleetwood being in the right place at the right time to find a lead guitarist/songwriter and a singer songwriter looking for their own place.

Fleetwood Mac already had some success from their earlier incarnations, with not only the Peter Green version, but with the (speaking of underappreciated) Bob Welch "bridge" between the bluesier Green led incarnation and that with Buckingham and Nicks. So the set up for Stevie and Lindsey couldn't have been a better one and it miraculously worked out better than anyone could have hoped even for the seeming unlikeliness of it all.

Anyway, I watched that Silver Springs video and realized that there's a certain amount of interesting about artists who collaborate and who use their interpersonal strife as subject matter for their collective art and then continue to perform together even while they have to endure/relive these difficult emotions between one another.

I mean, that's a special kind of self-condemning hell, isn't it?


I don't know, I find it kind of inspiring that people who care about each other can continue to do so even as the circumstances of their relationships change. I've always felt deep affection can surmount physical changes in relationships. So while there would certainly be some strong emotions involved and occasional conflict, sharing and maintaining a lived and evolving history needn't be hellish. Of course at the same time it certainly could be if the people involved weren't mature enough to handle it. I just don't see it as definitively awful.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:02 PM on December 30 [2 favorites]


This thread forced me to get Google Play set up and then configured on my Roku so I could buy The Dance on video. It's extremely SD (and this is clearly before Stevie's fog ban) but was still really well shot. This was such a well-done gorgeous show and highlights just how good everyone is.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:50 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]


Okay - I am giving in, and I am about thisclose to heading over to Askme to ask how someone in their late 40's can at long last start cultivating their Stevie Nicks style phase without looking ridiculous. (I've already got the scarf and shawl thing down, my problem is that the middle-aged belly makes dresses a little bit of an issue.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:01 PM on December 30


I mean, that's a special kind of self-condemning hell, isn't it?

Perhaps there is a tiny glimmer of heaven - from the OP article:
"...on some level she’s still in love with Lindsey Buckingham, and she’s admitted as much: '[T]he love is always there, but we’ll never be together, so that’s even more romantic.'"
posted by fairmettle at 12:14 AM on December 31


Interesting article and thread.

We of course have "Fleetwood Mac" and "Rumours" from when they first came out. Songs like Rhiannon just totally work. Great in headphones. In some of the other songs, it seems to me like Stevie doesn't always 100% fit into the recording, though none are unpleasant to listen to.

It does seem like there were "Stevie" songs and "Christine" songs (not necessarily written by her, but FOR her), and other songs.

Playing the game, I do think Christine is the superior singer, but we like Stevie as much or more for her writing. It was nice to read that they have always been friends; I wouldn't have guessed that. I sought out other albums from Christine (solo and otherwise) and to me nothing shines like the music Christine made with Fleetwood Mac.

I think that not enough credit is given to Mick Fleetwood and the producers they brought in, for the good writing, good choices, great recording and production, and for holding the whole thing together during those turbulent times. The albums reward close listening.

"Tusk" is sort of like their "Sgt Pepper" - full of interesting experiments and tangents.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:07 AM on December 31 [2 favorites]


Stevie vs. Christine is another example showing that vocal pipes aren't everything.

I will unironically love "The Chain" and "Go Your Own Way" until my dying day.
posted by uberchet at 8:07 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Also, even though the show was hot garbage, it is also beyond awesome to me the Nicks cameoed in the "Coven" season of American Horror Story. Because obviously.
posted by uberchet at 8:15 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I am about thisclose to heading over to Askme to ask how someone in their late 40's can at long last start cultivating their Stevie Nicks style phase without looking ridiculous.

First, be born in about 1930, so that this phase happens in the late 70s........
posted by thelonius at 8:28 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


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